Friday, November 22, 2013

Your Cancer's Better Than Mine

It's ridiculous to say, or even think.  But I will freely admit to falling into this trap more than once already.  Today marks the first full week that I have been diagnosed with Colorectal Liver Metastases (CLM).  It's the second deadliest form of cancer I'm told.  (remember, Tami has pretty much forbidden me from looking up any more numbers and pictures and stuff)  That said, my chances aren't very good.  I know this.  I'm choosing to stay positive and beat this thing.  If my Great Aunt can still be kicking after years of chemo at her advanced age (91...and she was diagnosed with lymphoma almost 15 years ago) and her incredibly frail body, I should be looking pretty good.

The problem is the little dark place in my head and the sometimes searing pain in my gut.  When those things combine, along with my problems eating, and taking in too much sugar and on and on and on...we'll lets just say that my slightly less positive side comes out.  And I've found that side to be spiteful, envious and not at all in line with how I should be viewing the world right now.  I look at other people who are going through my same journey.  I read their blogs, talk to their families or even text them.  And on a rare occasion I look at their situation and pity myself.  Yes.  I see them as luckier than me.  Maybe they caught the cancer early and they are only treating a single tumor, maybe it's one of those cancers that has a really high survivability rate, maybe maybe maybe...

It doesn't matter that they are just as scared as I am about facing such an unknown.  It doesn't matter that just uttering the word cancer makes people's blood pressure elevate or causes them to break out in hives.  It doesn't matter that they may not have half of the support system that I do, with amazing friends and family, great doctors at a nationally recognized cancer center and a wonderful job with fantastic health insurance.  Because in that moment, their cancer is better than mine. 

This is a dangerous slope.  If you buy into this, you start seeing it everywhere as you travel outside of the cancer realm.  You draw stupid parallels in TV shows or commercials.  You start looking at people on the street or from your past and think, how do I have this and you don't?  I have so much to live for and you're wasting your life...and I get cancer?  And not only that, a bad one, that's already advanced enough to make some of the doctors you interact with give you that sad look as they say they're sorry.  Poor me.

See...It's easy isn't it?  This usually happens when I'm tired or still in pain or weak from doing too much work, like climbing the stairs 3 times in an hour.  It's destructive.  It clouds your mind and your ability to heal.  It takes away the laser focus that should be honed on caloric intake, regular exercise, mental health.  I start chemo next week and I need to be firing on all cylinders.  I don't have time for these negative episodes and self involved pity parties where I actually think negatively about someone going through the same thing I am.  When this happens, it's an affront to all of those sending me prayers and positive thoughts. 

Thankfully, it doesn't happen often, but times aren't as dark as they are going to get in the near future.  It always hits when you're down.  The trick is to find a way out of it before you fall into the hole.  I try to find beauty in just about everything these days.  We got a new thermometer a few days ago and took my temp tonight because I felt warm.  Low and behold, a low grade fever of 100.5.  I know it's a low grade fever instantly, even before I see the numbers because the display registers an amber color.  I could've been down about the fever.  If that happens when I'm on chemo we have to call the doctor and possibly make a trip in.  But I didn't.  I felt like shit and it was a perfect opportunity, but there was that amber background.  I appreciate efficiency.  So this little device was perfect in it's simplicity.  No need to remember ranges, or look things up on the Internet.  Just 3 colors to remember.  Green=Good, Amber=Low Grade Fever, Red=Doctor's Visit (in my case anyway).  I latched onto this like a vice.  It made me feel good that some engineer somewhere thought about making something easier...and it worked.

We live in a world today where there is an abundance of "poor me" happening all around us.  And it's infectious.  Our children aren't learning to grow out of it and end up becoming "poor me" adults.  Every time it happens to me I feel pretty much instant remorse.  As it gets easier to fall into, I need to find more things to keep me from sinking.  I can only take my temperature so many times, so there needs to be something else.  It's you.  :)  I go back to my support system.  I reread posts and email and comments and I'm blown away at how lucky I am.  All of you are pretty darn wonderful and I so cherish having you in my life. 

Thank you for being you.



  1. You my amazing cousin are a inspiration. As a lovely blue fish once said "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. " Know that you are surrounded by peopke who love you. Wish I was closer. Love you. On a side note the thermometer is kinda cool. They should make one for kids line that, that says "School or No School"...

  2. We are all here because YOU are YOU Jake. You are allowed your dark moments. You are also allowed to have your butt kicked by Tami to get out of the dark moments. Hang tough my friend.

  3. Jake, I've been reading these posts since you've started this blog, but haven't commented yet because I haven't known the right thing to say. Today I realized that there is no right or wrong thing.

    I'm here. I'm reading. I'm praying.

    If there's anything I can do from my corner of the world, you have only to ask.

    1. Megan, each time I read some more of your story I find examples of strength to follow. And it doesn't just stop there. You're not just an example to follow, you're an inspiration and a beauty to behold. Thank you sharing your life as well. It really does help us all. :)